Beef Regulator and removal of penalties vital for Mayo farmers

Appointment of a Beef Regulator with adequate powers and the removal of penalties such as the four movement rule and the 30 month rule are vital to beef farmers in Mayo.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Wednesday, 26th May, I said:

Farmers are the ‘litmus test’ of how well the rural economy is performing. Most of the revenue that these businesses generate is spent locally. Profits get passed on to local businesses and services, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, the construction industry, and myriad supply companies and businesses. These are all direct or indirect beneficiaries of monies generated on farms.

Unfortunately, this supply chain is broken. It’s fragmented and disconnected and suffers a serious lack of trust between many of the stakeholders. It undoubtedly needs attention. We need an independent beef regulation with proper powers.

Factory bonuses like the 30-month rule and the 4-movement rule are designed to act as penalties rather than bonuses. Why are they still in place?  Farmers do things that make sense to them!  These rules make no sense whatsoever. The only beneficiaries are the factories – the same factories controlled by barons who operate under unlimited companies and with an appalling lack of transparency.  What are they hiding?

Beef farming is in a constant battle for survival

Yet beef farming is in a constant battle for survival. These farmers face the constant threat of being the sacrificial lambs in the Climate Change Bill to reduce stock numbers. 

Farmers are playing their part in climate change and they are willing to play their part in the future. All they need is a bit of fair play and people who are willing to work with them, rather than trying to unilaterally obliterate them.

We are well placed to produce some of the finest quality beef in the world, with exceptional environmental credentials. Grass fed, extensively grazed, part of an agricultural ecosystem developed over thousands of years, mixing livestock and crops, managed as family businesses, in harmony with the environment. Not as huge feed lots or monoculture we observe in many other parts of the world.

However, a word of caution for this government. A healthy ecosystem, a healthy environment, birds, fish, trees and wildlife will not guarantee the survival of the family farm. But a healthy profitable family farm can guarantee the survival of a healthy ecosystem and a clean green environment.

Farmers need meaningful assistance

Farms need meaningful support and assistance to survive. Not ‘window dressing’ and schemes just for the optics! Support must put money where its needed, in the farmer’s pockets. These farmers need to know that an Independent Regulator is there to fight their corner and expose any wrongdoings or price fixing by the processors.

Farmers need better market signals and more vertical integration in the supply chain to ensure they produce exactly what the market wants. And when they do, they must be properly paid for it!